Movies You Haven’t Seen: Seven Days In May

There were a number of interesting Cold War movies made, and a lot of drek. I recently highlighted The Day the Earth Stood Still. That is probably one of the best 1950s-era Science Fiction movies, (This is era that gave us Plan 9 from Outer Space, after all) and one of the better Cold War movies.

Seven Days In May is a political thriller based around the possibility of a military coup taking place in the USA. It isn’t perfect, but it has a good cast, and Rod Serling (of The Twilight Zone) wrote the screenplay, and he knew how to keep you on the edge of your seat. Hmmm. A story about removing a sitting President because you don’t like him or his politics. Why did that come to mind?

And the whole film is a reminder that the phrase “It can’t happen here,” is just not true. So here’s the trailer from the 1964 movie. They apparently remade this (sort of) as a TV Movie in 1994 with Forest Whitaker.

Something I Never Noticed Before

So, given that I am losing my mind in quarantine, I am re-watching every old movie in my collection of movies to hold onto my sanity. (the library is closed, which is my usual source for new – to me – movies.) I was watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, (“Even numbered Star Trek movies don’t suck”) and I noticed something I never noticed before.

Pai Mei is the communications officer on the starship USS Saratoga.

For the uninitiated Pai Mei is the Sith Lord of the Kung Fu world. Basically, don’t ever fu*k with this guy. He cannot be beaten. Even a kick in the balls won’t work cos he has none.

According to legend Pai Mei was one of the five elders of Shaolin and also supposedly betrayed the Shaolin Temple leading to it’s burning down by the imperial government. The character has become famous in Kung Fu movies as the unbeatable white eyebrow villain.

If you’ve ever seen Pai Mei, it was likely in the Tarantino film Kill Bill, Vol. 2. (Unless you’re a movie nut like me, and actually know the Shaw Brothers universe!) You can just compare the photos associated with each video… You decide.

Here’s the section of Voyage Home from the Saratoga.

Here’s the introduction of Pai Mei in Kill Bill, Vol. 2.

And even though you think Pai Mei was killed in Kill Bill, I wouldn’t count on it.

It’s actually nice that Pai Mei was played by Gordon Liu in Kill Bill, because a younger Gordon Liu fought against Pai Mei in one of those older movies.

‡ As for my sanity, before we all went into quarantine… Some would say it was questionable. (I did climb into small boats and sail out of sight of land.)

Adam Schlesinger – RIP

Because these are the times we live in. Adam Schlesinger: Fountains of Wayne Co-Founder, RIP 😢😷☣️.

Adam Schlesinger, a native of New Jersey who fronted the band Fountains of Wayne, died on Wednesday due to complications from the coronavirus. He was 51.

You might know his work because he wrote the song for the 1997 movie That Thing You Do. That movie was directed by Tom Hanks.

EBL has a musical interlude tribute, and there is more info at the 2nd link as well.

Movies You Haven’t Seen: The original The Day The Earth Stood Still

I’m actually not sure how many of you have and have not seen this film. I am NOT talking about the travesty of a remake, that stared Keanu Reeves from 2008, but the original Cold War version from 1951.

I was reminded of this movie a while back when watching Project Blue Book which includes a bit of the ending in the pilot. I didn’t make it thru the pilot, and I would have to work pretty hard (and violate some social-distancing rules) to see it. Unless it is streaming somewhere like Netflix… And I probably won’t resubscribe to any streaming services right now. And yes I know they’re all free for a month.

Anyway, I doubt most of you have seen it, if only because movies from the 1950s tend to move a bit slowly by modern standards. And while there is a “giant” robot (Gort isn’t that big, really) who destroys a few things, there aren’t any wonderful special effects, by today’s standard anyway. (All the reliance on effects is one of the many things that made the 2008 remake so awful.)

Here’s a review. Trailers from that era tend to be nonsense. As a review, it contains spoilers. I think you would still enjoy the film. And it is only about 5 minutes.

Movies You Haven’t Seen: Tank Girl

Guys universally hate Tank Girl. I think it mostly stems from the “feeling inadequate?” scene that is referenced in the trailer. But maybe not. Women are split on the film in my experience. But hey, you’ve got time on your hands…

Lori Petty, Naomi Watts, Ice-T and Malcolm McDowell. All in a post apocalyptic landscape.

Here’s the official trailer for Tank Girl, though I’m not sure that it does justice to the film. It does point up some of the insanity. I haven’t actually watched this movie in a VERY long time, but I tripped over a Lori Petty video that reminded me…

The soundtrack might be better than the film, but I still smile just thinking about it. It is NOT great cinema, not by a long way. Maybe you should watch it on your computer while doing something else. You can always rewind.

Since A Lot of Us Have the Time…

We Are the Mighty has some suggestions for viewing. The 9 best Vietnam War movies.

The list includes some good movies, like The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, and Good Morning, Vietnam and also a few that I don’t think are so good, like First Blood. But we have time to watch.

Francis Ford Coppola set out to make a Vietnam War epic based on Joseph Conrad’s anti-colonialist novella The Heart of Darkness. It would turn out to be one of the most arduous productions in the history of cinema, taking over three years to complete and nearly destroying Coppola’s health and career in the process.

Here’s the trailer for Apocalypse Now.

Ricky Gervais Wins Oscar for ‘Best Comment’

I had no intention of watching his show. But I may have to rethink that. This guy is a genius.

Monsters

When I started paying attention to the music used in TV shows, I discovered some interesting music. While shows that have the budget try to get well known (or up and coming) artists’ songs on their soundtracks, shows that don’t have quite that much budget still want decent music.

Ruelle makes her living off that niche. Her music has been everywhere from Grey’s Anatomy, to Pretty Little Liars, to Riverdale and Sleepy Hollow. She also released 2 indie-pop albums under her birth name (Maggie Eckford) before adopting the stage name, Ruelle (a French word with multiple meanings including “wolf”). That was to mark a change in genre to a darker “cinematic” style. Hence the work for television.

This is “Monsters” by Ruelle. It was the opening song, to the opening of the TV series Shadowhunters. I think I like the song. The verdict is out on the rest of her work.

As I write this, I’ve only seen the pilot of Shadowhunters. It seems to be a Canadian production based on the book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I haven’t read that either. It might have potential, but I would have to seriously go out of my way to see the whole thing. It ran for 3 seasons, and ended last year. Pilots are often strained. Even a first season can be tough (Star Trek: The Next Generation is a case in point. The pilot is awful, and the first season is mostly unwatchable. Mostly.) But it has potential. Here’s the first 2 minutes or so of the pilot of Shadowhunters.

Robert Conrad Passed Away

I’m cut off from the constant news mania, so I miss some stuff like this. I usually get hit over the head with it eventually. He passed away on Saturday of heart failure at the age of 84.

Everyone is talking about the old 1960s TV show, Wild, Wild West. But while I did watch that show, it has been tainted by that truly awful Will Smith movie. So I will remember Robert Conrad for Black Sheep Squadron. (It was originally called Baa, Baa Black Sheep, but it seems few people remember that.) And while the video IS an advertisement, it is one of the best I can find.

Kirk Douglas: December 9, 1916 to February 5, 2020

Kirk Douglas passed away yesterday. He was 103 years old. And of course everyone is talking about Spartacus. I wonder how many have actually seen that movie at all, let alone the restored version. But I always liked Seven Days in May. Unfortunately, I can’t find a decent clip from that movie, and the trailer is so bad it was featured in Trailers from Hell. But it is a pretty good Cold War movie, for all that. (I think I’ve lost my taste for Hollywood extravaganzas like Spartacus.)

Here’s a clip from Tough Guys. Not the greatest movie ever, but certainly not the worst.

Black Widow

OK, I’ve been looking forward to this movie since they announced it. But now I am really looking forward to it. And it is a big deal, that they announced it. Disney *spit* hasn’t wanted to soil their “we’re the studio of princesses” by releasing a movie about a woman who kicks-ass and takes-names. That sums up Natasha Romanov in a nutshell.

This is the trailer for the upcoming movie, Black Widow, coming out in May.

And in case you aren’t clear on who Natasha is, this is how she was introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Get Woke, Go Broke

I’m shocked that the woke Doctor Who isn’t just the highest rated show ever. Doctor Who: Worst Ratings In 31 Years For Jodie Whittaker, Chris Chibnall. OK, I’m not that shocked.

We have to go way back to Season 23 of September, 1986 to see a lesser amount of viewers as “The Mysterious Planet” Part Four only had 3.7 million viewers tuning in.

Sunday’s episode of Doctor Who is also the eighth least-watched episode of the entire run which kicked off in 1963, and the lowest watched of the new series.

Now I haven’t watched any of the new series, but I did watch some of it back in the day, when the effects were cheesy. Who knows? Maybe they still are cheesy? (No pun intended)

Hat tip to Vox Populi, who notes Dr. Who has the cancer

Tremors

In some ways this movie was awful. In others, it was the prefect monster movie. Tremors turns 30, the most perfect B movie creature feature ever made.

It’s been 30 years since the release of Tremors, an unabashed love letter to the B-movie creature features of the 1950s that remains as fresh today as it was three decades ago. The film is sheer perfection, and ranks among my personal favorite films of all time. As Ars’ own Nathan Matisse wrote last year, “If B-movie horror with flashes of comedic brilliance and a few edge-of-your-seat scares interests you, viewers likely can’t do much better than Tremors.”

The rest of the article contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, well, what are you waiting for?

Here’s the trailer.

Hollywood is Officially Out of Ideas – Take 2

So while trying to determine if I was going to see Ford v Ferrari, while it is still in my local theaters, I was once again pulled down the rabbit hole of what does Hollywood have queued up for the next few months. It isn’t pretty. (Ford v Ferrari isn’t a comic book movie, it’s not a sequel, based on the SJW screeching that heralded its release, it isn’t politically correct, and it is supposed to be a decent movie. Still undecided.)

Sonic the Hedgehog, has been in the news because of the Uncanny Valley issues that arose after test screenings, so they rendered the entire movie a 2nd time with a redesigned Sonic. It still looks like a version of ET with a more comic hero, a more comic bad guy, and less appeal. (Scientists and the military are bad. I’m surprised that the cop comes across as a good guy.)

Just when you thought they were done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are set to release Morbius, who’s a doctor/researcher that manages to turn himself into a vampire. You can be excused if you’ve never heard of this character, since he was originally a minor Spider-Man villain, from the 1970s.

Some of the other fair… Another Bad Boys movie with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, A quasi-sequel to DC’s ill-fated Suicide Squad with Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. A Vin Diesel movie about a soldier back from the dead and enhanced. I keep thinking that this is RoboCop with more effects, and in the biochemistry realm, instead of hardware. And another Bond film staring Daniel Craig. (His last?)

Then there are the social justice screeds, and at least one movie that only a New York pseudo-intellectual could relish. The Booksellers is a documentary on the New York rare-book world. It will probably be interesting, but seems more suited to PBS than a theatrical release. A movie that casts homeschooling as cause for concern. (What are you hiding that you won’t let your kids go to state school?) An alcoholic’s attempt to regain sobriety. A story about an “unintended pregnancy” and 2 teens seeking “medical help.” (Can’t imagine what the message of that film might be!) An “inspiring story” of overcoming “an abusive childhood.” A story about “displaced youth” waging war with “the system” to keep her sisters together. And finally a satire about the super-rich.

The only thing that seems to have missed the Social Justice crusade is The Last Full Measure, the story of William H. Pitsenbarger, a United States Air Force Pararescueman, and how he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, thirty-four years after he died. A story about the Vietnam War, that showcases the heroism of at least one service member? How did this come about? Though I suppose they can still paint everyone else with darkness.

The Cats Fiasco

I suppose that eventually, like maybe next week or so, this thing will be put on DVD and end up at my library. At which point I may see it, or part of it, anyway. Why do I care? Schadenfreude, especially where Hollywood is concerned.

Hollywood In Toto serves up ‘Cats’ – Believe Every Ounce of the Awful Buzz.

It’s not as bad as everyone is saying. It’s actually worse.

Hollywood decided that if you are going to produce a movie based on the musical Cats in the era of CGI, we should move right into the uncanny valley and make ourselves at home.

If this film has a true legacy, it will be in providing a textbook example of how CGI can ruin a movie.

The musical was practically without a plot. So of course Hollywood had to graft a bit of a plot onto the musical, because the suits want a presentation that includes “What is the plot?” Because suits have tiny little minds, and they can only mimic what they saw last week. (My Dinner with Andre, would never be made by today; it has almost no plot.) But the musical didn’t need a plot. It was all about the music. In the meantime, if you want to see a musical made into a movie that is done properly, get a copy of Fiddler On The Roof.

Pitch Meeting videos are always too long, but Cats was such a bomb, that you have to give him some leeway for roasting it. (The video is almost 7 minutes) I have no idea if YT is going to choke on privacy settings for a video from Screen Rants or not, but if they do, use this link.

You would hope that Hollywood would learn that not everything translates well to the big screen, but as they mention in the video, Cats made a ton of money in the theater. Billions of dollars actually . No way Hollywood was going to pass up trying to get a chunk of that. And besides, they have no original ideas left, so they will be translating everything. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a movie version of I Love Lucy produced. Though it probably isn’t Woke enough for them to acknowledge. Although they did make Charlie’s Angels into a movie. Twice.

The Voices of Women in Metal

Continuing a train of thought that started earlier today with Monday for Metal… Actually it started with last Monday’s edition… There is an interesting documentary Soaring Highs and Brutal Lows: The Voices of Women in Metal. Doro Pesch, Charlotte Wessels, Alissa White-Gluz, Floor Jansen, Marcela Bovio, Kobra Paige and Anneke van Giersbergen in their own words. OK, at one hour, 30 minutes and change, it is a bit longer than I like to reference here, but I watched it in several installments.

I love the fact, that after a few credits, and snips of interviews it jumps in with Floor Jansen singing an aria from one of Puccini’s opears. Because why not? Several of these women are classically trained sopranos, after all. Because that is the technical level at which bands today make Heavy Metal. It is NOT all Thrash, despite what the suits in the American music industry think, with their tiny minds and lack of imagination. And I also like that Floor Jansen does practically give a singing lesson in the middle, while discussing pop versus metal, etc.

So here is the trailer for Soaring Highs and Brutal Lows: The Voices of Women in Metal. The entire 2015 documentary is available for anyone who is an Amazon Prime member. Or you can rent it for a 2 or 3 bucks, depending on whether you absolutely have to have HD or not. And don’t worry, despite the fact that it came out of The Netherlands, it is in English.

Danny Aiello: June 20, 1933 – December 12, 2019

So Danny Aiello passed away, and people will have lots of nice things to say about. With good reason. He was a great actor. And of course everyone will mention his role in The Godfather: Part II.

A little something different. Here is a clip from Hudson Hawk, an off-the-wall Bruce Willis movie, that I always thought was better than The Fifth Element.